She was 15 and made a choice. She hopped in the car of the handsome man and they took off. They went to a county that permitted their love. And they got hitched.
Yep, that’s how the legacy of my family was started. My grandma, Marguerite Florence, married her handsome miner, Charles Emerson. And although they were but babies, they married.
And they made it. 54 years, in fact, until he passed away—a great man with a great legacy and so many years of joy and laughter.
But life was not always as easy for Tootsie as that hop in the car or the signature on those papers.
My grandma watched her first beautiful baby boy born. She saw him grow. She loved him and his smile and laughter and beauty. And then one day he was gone.
And their hearts were broken.
Then came along their second baby…sick. And death claimed him but not before he also claimed their hearts. She calls him Baby Boy.
Two. Gone. Sorrow was a cloud that hung over their hearts, lives, home.
And then they welcomed a beautiful baby with big blue eyes…And he thrived.
A daughter followed, my mother.
Then the War. The War that men went off to fight, leaving behind the strongest generation of women. Women that had to care for the house, work the fields, get the jobs, and raise the children.
And, ironically, the War that was the battle for the great continent that my husband and I now reside upon. If my grandpa was alive, I wonder how he would reminisce about that fact? That he fought for the people and the land where we now live?
He returned safely and worked his remaining days as a copper miner in Bisbee, Arizona. Until 1991 when God called him home.
Now Tootsie, the toughest woman I know has a new title to her name…Widow. The man that she met, married, and loved since she was 1 day 15…gone. But her spirit remained strong.
Fast forward to 2006.
We had a little girl, and we named her Adelyne Marguerite after my amazing grandma. And boy, my daughter genetically inherited her great-grandma’s spicy spirit. And we’re thankful. In fact, there are times when we call Adelyne “Little Toots”!
Zoom again…It’s 2010.
We’re in Poland, and we lost our baby in pregnancy. And my mom told me my grandma just cried and cried upon hearing that news. If anyone understood the loss of your very own heartbeat, it is my grandma. At this point in her life, she has now buried 3 of her 4 children-her only living son has passed away too.
Many people said really nice things—but she knew the hollowness of losing your flesh and blood. And it was something, a very sad something, that has bonded us beyond the fact that our daughter was given her name.
And once again, we move forward to 2012.
Our son. He entered death and yet was given back to us. He was 2 months old. And our lives felt as if dump trucks had been thrown on top of us.
But he lived…God graciously gave him back to us. We do not know why—but we will never stop thanking him for this gift of Maxwell’s life.
And, once again, my grandma cried. Not because we lost Maxwell, but because he lived.
My daughter may have been named after my grandma, but it’s my son whose spirit fights on like my grandma—whose spirit that looks at adversity and difficulty in the eyes and says, “I’m going to walk on…I will persevere.”
Grandma Tootsie and Maxwell Loren—they know death. They know difficulty. And yet they know victory in Jesus. And they smile.
Today, my son walks up to her. Their unspoken bond is great. And he, Maxwell, stares. And then he smiles.
He smiles as if to say, “Thank you.”
“Thank you for being strong. For carrying on.”
“I am not a replacement of your life and your losses. I am a piece. A piece of your life because although sorrow was at times overwhelming, you held on. And joy has come in the morning.”
And she smiles at him.
And then he laughs.
And she laughs.
And the bond they share, the bond between a 91-year-old widower and a 15-month-old baby boy, is great.
Unspoken—unless smiles and laughter count as words.